Autopsy – Morbidity Triumphant Review

Here is a curious and potentially self-defeating opening for a review of a new Autopsy album: Do you need a review of a new Autopsy album? Don’t misunderstand: the question is not, “Do you need a new Autopsy album?” Because, so as to not bury the lede, Morbidity Triumphant is yet another ghoulish, ahem, triumph in Autopsy’s blood-crazed career. But as to whether you need a review, I can think of maybe two groups for whom the answer might be yes:

Group 1): You have not heard an Autopsy album before.

Group 2): Your brain was recently stabbed while listening to the opening song “Stab the Brain,” and as a result you do not remember that Autopsy is a Very Great Band.

Release date: September 30, 2022. Label: Peaceville.
For those of you in Group 1: Welcome! Autopsy is a Very Great Band that plays Very Great Death Metal, and I very much hope you enjoy your stay at Autopsy Inn & Suites. The breakfast is complimentary, but also there are zombies. Autopsy’s first two albums, Severed Survival and Mental Funeral, are both indispensable choices for any list of the greatest death metal albums of all time, but their career since is anything but a letdown. In fact, the only serious misstep in the Autopsy catalog is their fourth album Shitfun, whose title is precisely half-correct.

For those of you in Group 2: I am sorry about your stabbed brain! But if you would like a reminder about why we are here, “Stab the Brain” leaps directly into a cantankerous riff and barreling breakdown, but then it downshifts into a tricky little 4/4+5/4 gallop before sprinting back to a speedy two-step. It’s a lot of ground to cover in three minutes, but Autopsy’s craft is so self-assured that it flows seamlessly. Drummer and vocalist Chris Reifert plays both his drums and his vocal cords as if they have done him a personal disservice.

“The Voracious One” is a ruthlessly confident Black Sabbath shuffle following in the footsteps of Mental Funeral’s classic “In the Grip of Winter,” while the eerily doomy “Final Frost” lives up to its title with an opening trudge that hearkens back to the slow and angry-sad curmudgeonry of Winter. Late in the song, the undersung death metal MVP guitarists Danny Coralles and Eric Cutler trade off fiery solos that cut across alternating fast and slow sections. It’s a compelling display of the fury and resignation reflected in the lyrics about how “The folly of man / […] comes to fruition. / Self-made doom / the final condition.”

Autopsy’s lineup of Reifert, Cutler, and Coralles has been more or less settled from the beginning, with the only personnel exception being their roughly half-dozen bass players. New whippersnapper Greg Wilkinson (who is also Reifert’s counterpart in the new duo Static Abyss, whose Labyrinth of Veins is yet another disgustingly fun feather in both of their caps) stays mostly in a locked-in, pulpy thrup, but sometimes dips into the spotlight with flashes that are somewhat reminiscent of occasional Autopsy bassist Steve DiGiorgio’s fretless wiggling (as on “Stab the Brain” and “Tapestry of Scars”). Despite that variability in the low-end, the moral of the story is that Autopsy continues a streak of consistency that is admirable for how it never feels like treading water. Throughout Morbidity Triumphant, sassier, head-bash-ier tunes like “Knife Slice Axe Chop” and the punked-up “Maggots in the Mirror” sit comfortably along such sensitive, Sinatra-style crooners as “Skin by Skin” or “Tapestry of Scars.” “Slaughter of Souls” even pulls out a neat little slow-motion boogie thing, but across the board, Autopsy’s greasy, manic death metal is just as tooth-spittingly satisfying as it was more than thirty years ago.

Still, sometimes I find it difficult to write analytically about Autopsy because when I sit and really listen, everything here already makes perfect sense. I sit and listen and think, “Well, this is exactly what death metal is supposed to be.” I mean, listen to the song “Flesh Strewn Temple.” Its primary riff is unassailably excellent, but instead of just riding that riff until it wears out, they stretch and twist it, sit in a modal groove of its insides, make it go vroom-fast and froooooom-slow, and splatter it with guitar solo viscera. Reifert howls like a wooly mammoth with a snootful of moonshine. Wilkinson’s bass chases the guitars down a rabbit-hole of tight, nervous harmonies. All of these things are wonderful.

If you’re feeling fancy, you could join me in misappropriating Samuel Johnson’s line, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” I won’t say that if you are tired of death metal, you are tired of life. Instead, I will say: if you are tired of death metal, you must be listening to the wrong death metal. Listen to Autopsy instead, because they make either the smartest caveman death metal ever or the most knuckle-dragging sophisticated death metal ever.

Honestly, if there is any fault to be identified with Morbidity Triumphant, it is that there are already other Autopsy albums. But to suggest that because of that, this new album is either lesser or unnecessary is almost laughably beside the point. If you are the kind of inveterate nerd who needs to have a go at ranking things (hi, hello, how are you), my still-early impression of Autopsy’s four post-reformation full-lengths is Headless Ritual > Morbidity Triumphant > Macabre Eternal > Tourniquets, Hacksaws, and Graves, but these are all within a small severed limb’s reach of each other. And when you have a band that has found near-perfection in what they do, who the fuck are you to scoff at that? Who the fuck am I? I am sorry if you have read this entire review only to find the answer to the opening question “Do you need a review of a new Autopsy album” to be “No” AND also to be verbally abused by the author, but I am also not sorry because I am currently listening to Autopsy. I think you should do that, too.

Posted by Dan Obstkrieg

Happily committed to the foolish pursuit of words about sounds. Not actually a dinosaur.

  1. Now THIS album weedle-weedle-wees. Excellent, excellent stuff.


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